Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Cost of Bailout Passes $5 Trillion

The $700 billion bailout plan is turning out to be a drop in the bucket compared to the full cost of the government’s attempts to rescue the failing financial sector. Forbes reports:

For all the fury over Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion emergency economic relief fund, it seems downright puny when compared to the running total of the government’s response to the credit crisis.

According to CreditSights, a research firm in New York and London, the U.S. government has put itself on the hook for some $5 trillion, so far, in an attempt to arrest a collapse of the financial system.


Here’s what that total includes:

The estimate includes many of the various solutions cooked up by Paulson and his counterparts Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve and Sheila Bair at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as the credit crisis continues to plague banks and the broader markets.

The Fed has taken on much of that total, including lending a cumulative $1 trillion in overnight or short-term loans since March to primary dealers through its emergency discount window and making a cumulative $1.8 trillion available through its term auction facility, a series of short-term transactions it began making available twice a month in January. It should be noted that a portion of the funds lent in these programs has been repaid and that the totals represent what has been made available.

The Fed also took on tens of billions in debt, including $29 billion in debt of Bear Stearns, and made $60 billion of credit available to American International Group (nyse: AIG – news – people ). It is committing $22.5 billion to set up a special purpose vehicle to manage some of AIG’s residential mortgage-backed securities, and it is financing $30 billion of a second fund to hold $70 billion of multi-sector collaterized debt obligations on which AIG wrote credit default swaps.

The Treasury, in addition to the $700 billion raised in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, agreed to guarantee money market funds against losses up to $50 billion, will inject $40 billion of capital into AIG and is backing the conservatorship of Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM – news – people ) and Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE – news – people ), to the tune of $200 billion.

The FDIC, meanwhile, is guaranteeing $1.5 trillion of senior unsecured bank debt.

Does the phrase “we’re screwed” ring a bell to anyone?